Interview: Umbrella Bird Jewellery’s 17 Year Old Maker Nicole on Growing Up Creative
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We are so excited to check out Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this weekend! There are so many wonderful makers sharing their creative energies. We know the place will be just bursting with all that awesome creative juice. Crystal and I plan on browsing, tweeting and getting inspired. Will you join us?!
You’ll want to stop by the booth of this young maker, Nicole Del Negro of Umbrella Bird Jewellery. Her pieces are stunning and her story a tribute to growing up in a creative household and following your creative passions. Meet her in our interview and then in person at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this Saturday and Sunday at the PNE Forum!
Your jewellery is stunning! Take us through the creative journey towards discovering your unique style. How did you learn to wire wrap jewellery?
Making things has always been my passion, and I love playing with new mediums to find out what can be made with them. In 2013, a friend left some wire at my house after a crafting party, so I started experimenting with it and trying to emulate wire wrapped designs that I had seen online. The first pendant I made was a more basic version of the bird’s nest design I sell now, and it was a gift for my mom. Her support and the interest in the piece from friends and family gave me the encouragement to continue working with wire, and eventually start Umbrella Bird Jewellery.
At 17 years old, you have many different ways you could spend your time. What is it about jewellery making that so attracts you?
Jewellery making is fun! Designing a piece and bringing it to life gives me a sense of immense joy and accomplishment. Lots of my friends have part time jobs, and making jewellery fills that role for me. I make money while doing what I love, so it is the perfect way to spend my time.
Tell us about the decision to open your own Etsy shop at your young age. What motivated you to begin to sell your creations?
At my first few craft fairs many of my customers asked if I had an Etsy shop. Many vendors recommended it too. Etsy gives me more exposure, and the opportunity to reach many more potential customers, so it has been really beneficial for my business. Selling my creations is great because I get to meet new people and share what I make with them.
Who inspires you in your life and creative journey? Are other members of your family creative?
One of my role models for creative business is Stephanie Ostler, the genius behind Devil May Wear. We met at last year’s Maker Faire, and her story and business philosophy resonated with me. She has three stores in BC, and she makes all the pieces for each store herself. Her passion and dedication to her work inspires me.
My parents have had a tremendous impact on my creative journey. My dad is really creative, and is great with woodworking. His attention to detail is astonishing, and I try to take after him in that regard. My mom is my biggest cheerleader, and her support has been instrumental to the success of my business. She wears my jewellery almost every day, and is always the first to see and critique new designs. Both of my parents have encouraged me in my creative pursuits since I was a toddler.
In your childhood, are there moments of creativity and making that you particularly remember? How did your parents encourage your creativity? We believe that creative parents grow creative kids. Is that the case in your family?
My fondest memories are of the chaotic weeks before Christmas each year. I have always insisted on hand-making gifts for every member of my extended family. I inevitably started late every year, which often resulted in panic. My parents were incredibly supportive, and they never complained – even when I needed a ride to get more pompoms and pipe-cleaners on Christmas Eve. I wouldn’t be where I am now in my business or in life without the support of my family.
We are excited to meet you at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire. Who are you hoping to meet? What are you most looking forward to about the event?
I really want to meet the other young makers. It is always interesting to see what they are doing. Many of their projects and businesses are amazing, and most of them are younger than me! Talking to other young makers is always a highlight of Maker Faire, and I learn a lot from them.
My favourite part of Maker Faire is all the people. The makers and the attendees are always friendly and great to talk to. I love meeting new people, and getting to share my jewellery with them. The atmosphere is so positive, it makes the days go by quickly and enjoyably. I’m also looking forward to seeing Tess King’s pop-up cards. Tess is a friend of mine, and this will be her first time selling them. I am really excited for her, and I know her cards will be popular!
What are some of your dreams and aspirations for the future? Do you see creative living in your big picture?
Next year I will attend UBC for the Bachelor of Arts and Master of Management dual degree program, so I will see where that takes me. For a career, I definitely want to do something creative, but I’m not sure what it will be just yet. For now, I will keep Umbrella Bird Jewellery going for as long as I can keep people interested.
Which of your designs is your favourite?
I’m very fond of my pendant design “Key to my Pennyfarthing.” It is one of my first original pieces. It is whimsical and unique, and I had a lot of fun coming up with the design.
Read more about makers we are excited to meet at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire.
If you live in the Vancouver area we hope to see you at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire, this weekend, June 6 & 7 from 10:00am – 6:00pm. For more information visit the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire website.
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